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KKKorGOP

While social media lit up with commentary about Thursday night’s Republican presidential debate, The Dream Defenders launched a campaign of their own.

The group, which advocates about everything from ending police violence and racial justice, to getting more young people to vote, launched #KKKorGOP, which asked people to identify if controversial statements on race came from Republican candidates or members of the Ku Klux Klan.

The Dream Defenders also posted images marked #KKKorGOP to Instagram, and apparently, the social network wasn’t too pleased. Instagram deleted the Dream Defenders page without warning.

Steven J. Pargett, the group’s Communications and Culture Director, released a statement.

This morning, we found that our Instagram account ‘@TheDreamDefenders’ has been deleted by Instagram administrators, without any warning, after posting graphics that detailed questionable quotes by GOP Presidential candidates via the hashtag #KKKorGOP.  Other #KKKorGOP participants who shared graphics using the hashtag #KKKorGOP individual posts were deleted, but our entire account was deleted.

It’s also noteworthy that Facebook sponsored, and cohosted the GOP Debate last night. Facebook owns Instagram, and Instagram deleted our account for posts that facilitated discussion and debate via the #KKKorGOP hashtag on Twitter and other online forums.

In times of darkness, the people must have the freedom to shed light.  It is truly concerning when privately owned companies like Instagram step over the lines to censor organizations and people that are participating in the Democratic process by challenging people to think critically.

#KKKorGOP is a question that we asked for people to think about. We are working with allies to draw parallels and facilitate debate and conversation.

We are concerned that with brash actions like the one taken against our Instagram account last night, our right to free speech is under attack.

This isn’t the first time Instagram has deleted or suppressed social justice hashtags. Previously, the site has blocked the #SayHerName and #SandraBland tags, claiming they were trying to tamp down hate. However, activists accuse Instagram of trying to stifle conversation.

As social networks increasingly become backed by powerful corporate entities, it remains to be seen if more of them will censor activists’ speech.

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